Before yesterday, I had never heard of Ben Swann. Apparently he is the new anchor for the early evening news broadcast of the local Atlanta CBS affiliate, having joined the station in June. Apparently he is also prone to antivaccine conspiracy theories, which is a very bad thing to be prone to as a reporter or anyone working in the news media. I came to learn of Swann because of an article that looks on the verge of going viral (given that relatives have e-mailed me asking me about it) entitled CBS Reporter Ben Swann Tells the Truth About CDC Vaccine Cover-Up. Of course, I can’t help but interjecting here that if Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. thinks you’re telling the truth about vaccines, you really should reassess your reporting skills. Judging from the video from what appears to be the WGCL-CBS46 newscast from Friday night, I don’t think that Swann will be doing that any time soon, given that he calls the story Reality Check: CDC Scientist Admits Data of Vaccines and Autism Was Trashed:
Yes, it’s a news report about the “#CDCtruth” rally protesting the “#CDCwhistleblower” allegations of scientific fraud in a major vaccine-autism study from 2004. It’s also a story rife with antivaccine talking points, an incredibly credulous acceptance of claims made by the antivaccine movement about William Thompson, and outright misinformation, as you will see.
Before we get to Swann’s incompetent story, Thompson, just to remind you, is the CDC scientist who, beginning in November 2013, somehow became chummy with Brian Hooker, a biochemical engineer turned incompetent antivaccine epidemiologist. Why he did it, no one but Thompson knows. Whatever the reason, not realizing that his conversations were being recorded, Thompson spoke to Hooker in several telephone calls in which, apparently racked with guilt over a 2004 study on which he was co-author with Frank DeStefano examining MMR vaccine uptake as a risk factor for autism, he unburdened himself, kvetched about his CDC colleagues, and basically accused the CDC of covering up a finding that earlier MMR vaccination correlated with autism in African American boys. Even if one were to take that finding at face value, it actually was a study that showed that Andrew Wakefield was basically wrong in that no such correlation was found in Caucasians, male or female, African American girls, or any other racial group. That right away should have suggested to Thompson that it’s a spurious finding due to small numbers in the subgroup. It was, of course, a finding that disappeared when proper statistical correction was made for confounders.
As a result of these conversations, Brian Hooker did an epically incompetent “reanalysis” of the paper and managed to get it published in a relatively new journal. What this reanalysis claimed to find was that DeStefano et al. had done some statistical prestidigitation to eliminate a statistically significant difference in African American males correlating with age of MMR vaccination. Of course, as I discussed at the time (as did many others), Hooker, in his love of “simplicity,” had neglected to control for important confounders and imputed way too much significance to a spurious correlation that disappeared when proper correction for confounders was made. As I’ve put it many times, simplicity in statistical analyses of epidemiological data is not a virtue. In any case, so incredibly incompetent was Hooker’s analysis that the journal actually retracted the paper.
Thus was born the “CDC whistleblower.” More of the details can be found in my post about the CDC rally and my review of a book by Kevin Barry that published transcripts of four of telephone calls between Hooker and Thompson. In any case, because Thompson’s allegations appeared to confirm the central conspiracy theory of the antivaccine movement (that the CDC knew vaccines cause autism but were hiding it from the public), the antivaccine movement has been beating this dead horse of a scandal for over a year now, ultimately leading to what even Swann says was only “over a hundred people” showing up to protest by the CDC headquarters in Atlanta.
With that background in mind, let’s take a look at the story, which RFK, Jr. introduces thusly:
Finally, courageous Atlanta CBS reporter Ben Swann tells the truth about the Center for Disease Control (CDC) whistleblower, the most censored story of the millennium. CDC’s senior vaccine safety scientist, Dr. William Thompson, has confessed that the CDC vaccine division has been concealing the link between certain vaccines and brain injuries including tics and autism, particularly in African-American children.
Yep. Swann clearly buys into the whole “CDC whistleblower” manufactroversy, as can be gleaned from the blurb about the story:
Over 100 people gathered outside the CDC in Atlanta demanding transparency when it comes to vaccines. Is there anything to what these people are saying? How about the facts that no one else will share? This is a Reality Check you won’t see anywhere else.
Did it ever occur to Swann that the reason you won’t see this “reality check” anywhere else is because there’s nothing to all the allegations of conspiracy? Sometimes the reason the mainstream press ignores a story is because reporters tend to recognize cranks when they see them. Sure, sometimes it’s because you’re the first reporter to have stumbled on the story, but lack of coverage from the mainstream media does not necessarily (or even often) mean that there’s some sort of conspiracy of silence.
Right off the bat, Swann interviews one of the protesters, who rattles off the usual litany of alleged CDC transgressions in the mind of an antivaccinationist. We see a shot of the crowd (such as it is) with a sign that says “Subpoena Dr. Thompson!” This, of course, makes me wonder what Thompson’s colleagues working for the CDC think of this. After all, in Kevin Barry’s book, the transcripts of his phone conversations with Brian Hooker portray him saying some fairly nasty things about some of them. Then, of course, there is the whole bit about his accusations that Frank DeStefano and the other co-authors on the 2004 MMR paper committed scientific fraud by destroying evidence, a charge he repeated to Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), who got up on the House floor to demand an investigation into the “scandal” and then again when the announcement was made that the book would soon be published, claiming that Thompson had told him that his coinvestigators had “intentionally withheld controversial findings from the final draft of the Pediatrics paper” and had discarded a lot of the primary data in a big garbage can. At the time, my skeptical antennae started twitching furiously, because the story just didn’t sound credible. The federal government has very specific regulations on data retention and woe be to any federal investigator who doesn’t adhere to them.
In any case, Swann claims that what the protesters are saying, namely that the CDC hasn’t been truthful in its vaccine messaging and science, and that these claims hinge on one man “whom you’ve probably never heard of before,” namely William Thompson. He quotes liberally from a statement issued by William Thompson’s lawyer on August 27, 2014, specifically the parts about Thompson “regretting that my coauthors and I omitted statistically significant information” and claiming that the data suggested that “African American males who received the MMR vaccine before age 36 months were at an increased risk for autism.” Yes, that was his statement, but as I discussed at the time he’s never really shown scientific fraud, only a disagreement over how to analyze and present the data.
Swann reveals that he asked Dr. Thompson for an interview. Not surprisingly, Thompson declined, no doubt at the instruction of his attorney. Swann also didn’t speak to Rep. Posey, although apparently he did speak to someone in his office, who claims that thousands of documents were handed over, although “sources” (unnamed, of course) claim that there were over 100,000 documents. Personally, I wonder where one gets 100,000 documents over a single study. I doubt that the sum total of the documents for every study I’ve ever done comes anywhere near that. On the other hand, I don’t do epidemiology research. Even so, there were less than 2,500 children in the DeStefano et al study; I suppose it’s possible to reach 100,000 documents, depending on how you define “documents.”
Be that as it may, as I related when it happened, the reason Rep. Posey didn’t get much attention when he made these allegations is because he brought it up during what the House calls “Morning Hour” debates, which are usually held on Mondays and Tuesdays and are dedicated to members speaking about whatever they like. It was also the last week the House was in session before its August recess. As I asked at the time: Why give this speech in a Morning Debate a couple of days before everyone in Congress heads back to his district for five weeks? My guess was that Posey was doing a favor for his paying supporters in the antivaccine movement, but doing it in such a way that he’s on C-Span giving a speech asking for an investigation of Thompson’s allegations, but at a time when no one in Congress is paying attention to anything but getting major work done in time to be able to blow out of town. Cynical? If I’m right, yes it’s cynical. But, hey, this is Congress.
I also wondered about the claims, dutifully regurgitated by Swann, that Thompson’s co-investigators destroyed evidence. For one thing, there were data retention policies, as I mentioned above. For another thing, the data for an epidemiological study would be not just be on paper. Much of the data would also reside on computer files, in particular SPSS files used to do the statistical analysis and perhaps spreadsheets and databases storing all the data on the subjects. These would be stored on CDC servers, which are backed up every day, with backups kept for a long time, if not indefinitely. In other words, it’s not that easy to do what Thompson is accusing his co-investigators of doing, Posey is repeating, and Swann is regurgitating mindlessly. There would be both an electronic and paper trail that would be difficult to erase. One notes that Posey quotes Thompson as saying that he retained all the computer files. If he did so, where? The federal government has very strict regulations about where computer data can be stored; my colleagues at the VA, for instance, tell me that you can’t even copy files onto a jump drive without permission. Did our CDC whistleblower violate government data policies? Inquiring minds want to know!
I said that Ben Swann was antivaccine. Near the end is where he proves it by rhetorically asking:
Why is it that you have to be all for vaccines, given in all quantities to all people, or you’re antivaccination? You know, vaccines have probably saved more lives on this planet than any other single medical advancement. Know that. But what you might not know is that all vaccines in all quantities in all people are not safe. Every year, hundreds of children are injured by vaccines here in the United States. Since 1986, the United States government, they have paid out $3 billion to the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. But raise even one question—just one—about why that is, and you get shouted down.
Hoo boy. This guy would be at home on the antivaccine crank blog Age of Autism.
No, Mr. Swann. You’re not antivaccination if you question the vaccine schedule. Scientists who are very pro-vaccine question the schedule and argue about which vaccines should be on it and when every year as the schedule is reevaluated. As for the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, the reason the program even exists is because the federal government was fearful that a wave of spurious lawsuits would lead vaccine manufacturers to stop making vaccines for the U.S. market. The VICP is also unusual in that, win or lose, complainants have their court costs and lawyer fees reimbursed. Swann sounds like Rob Schneider ranting about the vaccine court, which actually has a pretty lenient standard for awarding compensation, which likely means a significant number of awards were to patients who were not vaccine injured and whose medical problems derived from some other cause. In any case, you can see the statistics right here if you’re interested.
Swann is actually pretty disingenuous, too. “Raise even one question” and you’re “shouted down”? Nonsense! It’s more like: Try to defend vaccines, and the antivaccine movement not only shouts you down but makes death threats (as its members have for Paul Offit) or try to get you fired (as it did with me five years ago). And, hey, Mr. Swann: You’re an anchor on a CBS affiliate in a major city, and you were allowed to do this story, even though it’s chock full of antivaccine conspiracy mongering. Truly, your producers failed miserably in vetting your story; either that, or they share your antivaccine beliefs.
At this point, I wondered whether Ben Swann had any history of this sort of thing. It turns out that all I had to do was to look at his YouTube channel to see that he does. For instance, he clearly is sympathetic for the claims of 9/11 Truthers and “cannabis cures cancer” pseudoscience and doing Google searches I’ve come across several of his videos on the conspiracy site Infowars.com. In fairness, Ben Swann also does some good work, too as he did reporting on government funding of stadiums, work that got him noticed by John Oliver, but scratch the journalist a little and underneath you find a tendency to believe conspiracy theories and pseudoscience.
What I want to know is why an affiliate of a major network in a major American city hired this guy in the first place.wg
160 replies on “Ben Swann on the “#CDCtruth” rally: Regurgitating antivaccine talking points”
Ben Swann turns out to be an Alex Jones wannabee, although he seems to have redacted his right-wing / glibertarian conspiracy site “http://benswann.com” and turned it into “ht_tp://truthinmedia.com/” when he made it to the big time.
Swann has been hyperventilating about the Thompson story for a while and is the source of the whole “hundreds of thousands of documents” component of the fantasy which he is now reporting as a story that’s out there.
You founder on the shoals of “Table 7,” pHARMa shill!
I spent some time back in February tracing the various trails of quotation whereby the “hundreds of thousands of documents” became accepted truth within the antivax echo-chamber, and they all ultimately led back to Ben Swann. He’s a central actor / fabricator within the story he’s now reporting on.
Not Mr. Sean’s first foray into anti vaccine territory. He interviewed Mr. Mark Blaxill and made a piece in Vaccine Court with the same slant two years ago. http://truthinmedia.com/truth-in-media-vaccine-court-and-autism/
Swann. Really, autocorrect.
Evidently a career of paranoid fantasies and rightwing pukefunneling is the way to bring oneself to the attention of CBS.
The career path worked so well for Sharyl Attkison, you can hardly blame Swann for following it too.
For a censored story, we sure hear a lot about it.
Also, by “millenium”, did he mean the last 15 years, or the last 1000 years? Either way, oh boy do you have an inflated sense of your own importance…
So, all of Thompsons “documents” have been in the hands of others for months now….yet not a single one has been made public – by anyone. Not Wakefield, not Posey, not Hooker, not anyone…..
Even to the most gullible anti-vaxer, that has to sound suspicious…..
“And, hey, Mr. Swann: You’re an anchor on a CBS affiliate in a major city, and you were allowed to do this story, even though it’s chock full of antivaccine conspiracy mongering. Truly, your producers failed miserably in vetting your story”
This is the part I can’t believe in that there was no accountability. A major news affiliate in Atlanta allowing an anchor to just make up a story as if it were journalistic news.
Of course, if he gets fired, it’ll be attributed to the Long Arm of Big Pharma.
It’s amazing how hermetically sealed epistemic closure can be.
Huh. This is the same channel whose day-of-protest coverage was all pretty good at showing how absurd it was.
Speculating here in cheerful ignorance, I imagine the CBS affiliate as deciding to recruit a rightwing conspiracist talking-point-spouter, in order to maintain their market share and give the audience what they want to hear (also to immunise themselves against accusations of “liberal bias”). Swann has all the credentials, with a history of “Obamacare is Doomed to Fail!” and “Big Gubblement is Coming for your Guns!”
I doubt his employers care much if his Big-Pharma-Corruption anti-vaccine obsession sometimes takes him off the reservation.
Since I live in CBS46 territory I wrote to the general manager to complain about Mr Swann’s coverage. They were kind enough to pass my complaint on to Mr Swann. His response is entertaining:
First I was amused. Then I was amazed. Then I was incredulous. There’s an old adage about bringing a knife to a gunfight in a battle of wits. This guy brought a plastic spork to a gunfight!
I hope the block quotes work. . .
He appears to also have spent some time at the cesspool that is RT- a platform for Russian propaganda and conspiracy theories.
The video on Swann’s facebook has now been viewed 661k times. And Russell Simmons has broadcast the story to his fans: https://www.facebook.com/RussellSimmons/posts/10153360559768759
They were kind enough to pass my complaint on to Mr Swann. His response is entertaining:
I guess all his scare quotes were left over from Hallowe’en.
Re: Swann’s sleuth skills
For Pete’s sake, Orac just posted something about him publishing an article in a scientific journal. With links.
Today’s peer-review process is big on anonymity, but I don’t think it’s to the point they keep hiding the names of the authors after publication.
Antivaxers have a tradition of not finding water in the sea (or autistic adults in the general populace). I’m glad to see Mr Swann is a proud follower of tradition.
BTW, Opus, badass reply. I like your style.
I’ve always wanted to see Brian Hooker’s answer to the Monty Hall problem, given how enamored he is with simplicity in statistics.
I suspect he would end up picking the first goat and going home with it, pretending it’s a car.
And the punchline:
Mr Swann got his fee-fees hurt! He holstered his spork, gave his propellor beanie a defiant twist, hopped on his hobby horse and road back to the land where the only two letters on Sesame Street are D and K.
[…] fresh on the heels of the anchor of the early evening newscast for a major market CBS affiliate going full on conspiracy theorist and antivaccine just the other day. Indeed, he’s credulously posting this video from Robert F. Kennedy, […]
Great reply! Only issue I have is that you used propeller beanie in a derogatory way. Propeller head is a term of endearment among us nerds.
This controversial matter would resolve itself very quickly if we saw an honest, double-blind study from ethical researchers. Unfortunately, that is hard to come by these days, now that Atheism runs the show in science. It’s pure irony and projection by atheist quack-intellectuals, constantly telling us how Christianity is the “thorn in the side” of scientific progress and discovery, when science has trouble producing a useful study conducted by honest individuals. And people wonder why Hollywood portrays scientists as narcissistic, self-centered fascist monsters. It’s because they lack any traits these days that makes them useful to society, and use science as a means of furthering their own vendetta. I guess jocks gave them one too many swirlies in high school. /rant
At any rate, I think this would contribute to our topic:
Great work! Our ‘benefactor’ will be pleased.
Did you contact the station manager?
-btw- Swann probably thought that he scored a coup without realising that other reporters wouldn’t bother with the story because they knew the background to some degree.
Unfortunately, he most likely earns more than we do.
I just ran across a new announcement at AoA which is seeking “tax-deductible” contributions which will “enable Dan and Kim” to continue their “daily work” –
does that mean they get PAID for what they write?
Holy mackerel I’m in the wrong business.
No I’m not- I educate and counsel people based on reality not fairy stories and self-promotion.
John, leaving aside your snide remarks about atheism in science, you fail.
1) You linked to SafeMinds. They are not a sensible source of information.
2) The double blind study has been discussed by Orac before. Suffice to say, a double blind randomised study of vaccines would be so unethical as to be instantly rejected by any properly constituted Independent Review Board, and in violation of the Helsinki Agreement.
Contributions to a for-profit business are tax deductible?
(In case I haven’t added this already-)
In other anti-vax news…
TMR is embarking upon a new strategy to fund their charity, Team TMR, which pays for biomedical treatments ( woo) by contracting a marketting firm to start up an internet television station with TEN channels ( see TMR). They’ll have a telethon to begin.
Another alt media project, as if there isn’t enough alt media nonsense already ( PRN, Mikey-radio, etc).
Believe it or not- MOST of the woo I survey has some sort of charity ( or several). They insist they “educate” the public.
I smell a troll, but just to be sure:
You want a study done, in which children will be randomly distributed into two groups, one receiving vaccines, the other no.
In such a study, whatever the truth is about vaccines and autism, one group will be put into a serious risk of harm. Either from nasty childhood diseases, if the provax are right, or from heavy neurological damage, if the antivax are right.
You really want to go this way?
John: “This controversial matter would resolve itself very quickly if we saw an honest, double-blind study from ethical researchers.”
Then go do it. Design a study that will suit you, make sure is complies with the Belmont Report, get it approved by a real independent review board, write a grant for funding, and then submit that grant to SafeMinds, Dwoskin Family Foundation, Autism Speaks, Generation Rescue, etc. And when you are funded, go do it.
Seriously, if you want something done right then go do it yourself. In the mean time, here is some reading for you:
By the very definition of this “double-blind” study anti-vaxers want, those researchers wouldn’t be “ethical.”
I know. They need to realize the steps they need to take, starting with complying with the Belmont Report. They obviously have no clue what it is, and I kind of hope they would look it up. If not, I’ll just ask what steps they are taking to comply.
But, as usual, they will have no answer. I suspect that John was a drive by, so we won’t get his brilliant answer.
Good call on WGCL going for more ‘eyeballs’, but they’re not after right-wingers. Swann positions himself as an equal opportunity poop-stirrer – thus the station can continue to claim balance. If anything his “Reality Check” pieces for WGCL have tilted a bit left/libertarian (e.g. defending #BlackLivesMatter against ‘hate group’ charges) of – which probably fits the Atlanta market south of the Big Chicken (aka The Land of Newt). His last anchor gig was in Cincinnati (aka the biggest city in Kentucky), not exactly the small-time, so if benswann.com was more right-leaning than truthinmedia.com (I notice he’s no longer doing a gun giveaway) that may be more about fitting-in with a different audience than ‘hitting the big time’. RFKJ (no surprise) is puffing: Swann does NOT work for CBS. The networks have no say or even interest in how their affiliates do their newscasts. ‘O&Os’ – stations owned and operated by the networks may be a different story. But WGCL is owned by media group that operates affiliates of all the different networks in different markets.
Swann’s CDC rally story is not a case of producers failing in professional oversight. Feature series like “Reality Check” don’t get introduced unless the News Director wants. them, and the ND will also have to be on board for each topic covered and the approach the ‘reporter’ takes. As Prof. Reiss noted, this piece was a rehash of stuff that Swann had done earlier, which in terms of the biz means it’s on his reel, which means this is part of the package WGCL decided to buy. Not that the station is anti-vax (per Emma’s comment). The line that explains what Swann means to WGCL is ‘this is a story you won’t see anywhere else.’
Local news broadcasts are a major bottom line factor for TV stations because they get to sell all the ad time. It’s always been a very competitive and ratings-driven business. Back in the last millenium, a VHF license was as good as a license to print money, and even bottom-of-the-book newscasts helped stations turn a nice profit. Nowadays, though, a low-rated newscast can actually leave local programming in the red. And WGCL has been the lowest rated ‘big 4’ station in Atlanta for some time.
Stations compete for the local news audience by differentiating themselves by style and tone of presentation from one another. That is, one might be more ‘straight’ news, another more tabloid-gossipy, another faux Fox. Again, these don’t correlate to network affiliation, though corporate ownership is often a factor. Since 1998, WGCL has been owned by the Meredith Group, a media ’empire’ derived from Better Homes and Gardens that also publishes Family Circle, Shape, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. Under Meredith, WGCL was known for ‘soft news’.
During the last year, though, the Meredith group has found itself in the midst of merger and acquisition melodrama. Perhaps not co-incidentally, WGCL went through a nasty purge of pretty much all of its long term news staff. I’d guess this shake-up resulted from TPTB looking at stock prices and issuing a dictate to show more profit. The biggest change you can make at a local station is to re-position the newscast. So soft news is out, and Ben Swann is in. Swann’s truther-baiting shtick is a known quantity in the news biz, and WGCL sought him out. That was a fairly unconventional move. Most local stations aren’t up for ‘take-out’ reports like “Reality Check” from any position, and the few that do don’t have anchors doing the reporting. WGCL is rolling the dice with Swann, who has the benefit (to the station) of providing ‘exclusive’ content and branding differentiation without hiring any extra staff or adding to the news production budget. If Swann attracts enough of the ‘truth is out there!’ crowd to pull WGCL news up from the bottom of the book, the station wins and Swann moves up the trash news ladder. If not, he goes back to the web, and WGCL is no worse off than they already are.
The only things his bosses might be vetting him for are 1) ‘balancing’ the pub-generating sensationalism across partisan lines (not filtering it out), and 2) minimal ‘safe’ reporting form by use of attribution, framing statements as questions, etc. That is, Swann has to be able to answer critics by saying they can’t “refute a single fact from my story.” And they can’t because his facts are all ‘so-and-so said this’ and the spin comes from how they’re selected and framed. He laces them with a few opinion adjectives: Thompson’s press release was “a major statement”, what Posey read before the House was “nothing short of stunning”. The closest Swann himself comes to making a falsifiable statement is ‘raise even one question about why the vaccine court has paid out $3 billion dollars in compensation, and you get shouted down.’ Of course, what constitutes getting ‘shouted down’ is subjective enough that the claim isn’t subject to refutation – as if that were the only applicable standard…
Anyway, the WGCL brass probably don’t share Swann’s anti-vax beliefs (assuming Swann actually has any). They probably just think an anti-vax story will get the attention and melodrama they desire. The main reason this became a “Reality Check” was likely that the rally provided a viable breaking-news ‘peg’ for a quick rework of material Swann already had in the can, thus providing the hype the desperate managers want (lest the bean-counters axe their jobs), without spending any new resources of time or money.
One thing I noted about this Reality Check segment that I forgot to mention in my post. It appears to be hosted solely on Ben Swann’s YouTube channel and not anywhere (at least not that I can find) on the CBS46 website, which probably tells you what you need to know about what the station thinks of it: Hold it at an arm’s length.
I’ve always thought that something needs to be don’t about 501(c)(3) status abuse.
On the other hand, I’m interested to see their 990’s.
You might have quite a wait due to the recency of their obtaining the status. What would be more interesting is their Form 1023, to see what their 501(h) election status is – which governs the amount of lobbying they can engage in.
In any event, the moment they engage in election advocacy (including recalls), the 501(c)(3) status is wide open for revocation.
This controversial matter would resolve itself very quickly
John deserves credit for introducing the bullsh1t right in his second word rather than sidling up to it.
“You want a study done, in which children will be randomly distributed into two groups, one receiving vaccines, the other no.
In such a study, whatever the truth is about vaccines and autism, one group will be put into a serious risk of harm. Either from nasty childhood diseases, if the provax are right, or from heavy neurological damage, if the antivax are right”
But if John doesn’t believe in germ theory, the diseases won’t be an issue, and if he’s only pretending to believe in the “dangers” of vaccines than that’s not a problem either. Either that or he likes the idea of children getting hurt.
You mean like this article dated July 4, 2015? According the this site the were granted tax-exempt status in April 2015. I have no idea how reliable that source is though and I can’t seem to find dates on the IRS site.
Search for “Autism Age.”
No one seems to know why Thompson “cozied” (?) up to Hooker?
Dr. Thompson stepped forward because he was directed to by his boss. After delaying for 10 years, pressure from the US Senate forced the CDC to provide the data on vaccine safety to Hooker’s FOIA request. Thompson was given the task of providing “all” of the data to Hooker, Hooker would find the same increase in risk of autism in African American males that Thompson and his colleagues had found, but omitted from the 2004 DeStefano study. They had conducted, and reported, other subgroup analysis – which they did not omit. They changed the inclusion criteria in a post-hoc manner (after they saw the association) in a manner that can only be said to be consistent with fraud: they made up the requirement of a child having a valid birth certificate, and, in so doing, reduced the N for the African American males subgroup analysis, reducing power. The fact that they did publish all of the other subgroup analyses they conducted, but omitted the African American male result, is obvious from examination of the publication and DeStefano’s ppt slides in presentations he gave at the time. They also omitted mention of the result for idiopathic autistic children. Anyone who has read the transcripts of the phone calls between Hooker and Thompson, or read Thompson’s confirmation of these confessions, would know that Thompson was was directly involved, and does not deny this, so these are confessions, not allegations. I have read them. They are infuriating. Thompson directly references his guilt as his motive for coming clean to Brian Hooker on the association he knew Hooker would find. He even went so far as to send Hooker the specific instructions (including command line strings) on how the CDC analyzed the data when they found the original association. Hooker published this result, but the paper was withdrawn over alleged concerns over statistical methods used and a trumped-up conflict of interest in the peer review process, which Hooker has denied. Funny, Hooker used the CDC’s methods – and his paper is withdrawn. The CDC’s original paper (DeStefano, 2004) is not similarly impeached? What you do not know is that a National Academy of Science’s Institutes of Medicine Report listed the original study as fatally flawed in design. In fact, this IOM report rejected 17/22 published studies on vaccine safety as flawed. Funny how the press goes back even further in time to an earlier IOM report but never mentions the more recent report. Ok, now it’s your turn: let the vitriolic, ad hominem attacks begin! Let me save you time: (1) I am only tangentially ‘involved’ with Age of Autism – due to my writings, I was asked to do a PSA stating my concerns over fraud in vaccine science. (2) One of my blog articles was picked up (reproduced) by another website. (3) I write books, and am involved in vaccine safety research via IPAK. I am writing a book on the Genetic and Environmental Causes of Autism, so I hope to sell books and thereby educate the public, including health care workers, on the published, peer-reviewed scientific literature. Conflict of Interest? I don’t know. Many other academicians who are also authors have sold books before me. Maybe they are all conflicted. I don’t feel conflicted at all. A percentage of the proceeds of my book on Ebola go to Doctors without Borders (msf.org).
I hope you learn how to use paragraphs to make your writing readable, in time for your next opus. A WoT (Wall of Text) is just not a commendable feature in any writer’s work (or play).
L-W: “Funny how the press goes back even further in time to an earlier IOM report but never mentions the more recent report.t”
It’s “funny” how L-W cites the Institute of Medicine but never mentions multiple IOM reviews which have concluded that recommended vaccines are safe.
“IOM Assessment of Studies of Health Outcomes Related to the Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule – 2013
IOM report The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety 2013
IOM convened the Committee on Assessment of Studies of Health Outcomes Related to the Recommended Childhood Immunization Schedule to conduct an independent evaluation of the safety of the childhood immunization schedule.
The IOM report, “ The Childhood Immunization Schedule and Safety ” was issued on January 16, 2013. In it, the Committee expressed support for the childhood immunization schedule as a tool to protect against vaccine- preventable diseases…
HHS charged the IOM with providing a thorough review of the current medical and scientific evidence on vaccines and vaccine adverse events.
The IOM Committee on Vaccines and Adverse Events released its report, ” Adverse Effects of Vaccines: Evidence and Causality ” on August 25, 2011…
The IOM Committee used peer-reviewed literature to review eight vaccines given to children or adults:
Measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR)
Human papillomavirus (HPV)
Diphtheria-toxoid-, tetanus toxoid-, and acellular pertussis-containing vaccines
The findings indicate that these vaccines are very safe and that serious adverse events are quite rare. The IOM has conducted two similar extensive reviews in the past. The last one was published in 1994.”
One must conclude that the IOM found plenty of valid peer-reviewed studies in its analyses in order to reach these conclusions.
Let the antivax obfuscations and fact-free accusations begin!
*It’s also “funny” how conflicts of interest (i.e. Wakefield, Hooker) are dismissed or ignored by antivaxers, but assume overweening importance when assigned to valid research establishing the safety and efficacy of vaccines).
Dr. Thompson stepped forward because he was directed to by his boss [later] Thompson directly references his guilt as his motive for coming clean to Brian Hooker
Would you like a minute to get your story straight? Here’s a hint – you don’t comply with an official FOIA request by chatting with the requester in a series of personal telephone calls.
They changed the inclusion criteria in a post-hoc manner (after they saw the association) in a manner that can only be said to be consistent with fraud: they made up the requirement of a child having a valid birth certificate
Um, no. All of the subjects in the study had valid birth certificates because that’s how they determined their ages and where they were born to begin with. They performed various sub-group analyses on the subset of subjects for whom they had long-form birth certificate because these provided them with additional info on potential confounders such as birth weight, maternal age, etc. They reported their results for both the total sample and the birth certificate sample – only the birth certificate sample had sub-group analyses because the subgroup info came from the birth certificates! In addition, if you look at Table 2 (you did read the paper, right?) and do some simple math, you’ll see that the birth certificate sample was consistently about 60% of the total sample for both white and black, case and control children, so the birth certificate sample for additional analyses didn’t drastically decrease the sample size, nor did it disproportionately exclude any particular group from the additional – not alternative – analyses.
The fact that they did publish all of the other subgroup analyses they conducted, but omitted the African American male result, is obvious from examination of the publication…
Wrong again – the subgroup data for race, maternal age, maternal education, and birth weight are in Table 5 (you did read the paper, right?) The odds ratios (OR) for black boys vaccinated before 18, 24, and 36 months are 0.83, 0.98, and 1.68, respectively. The 95% confidence interval (CI) for the last OR is 0.82 – 3.47, which is, of course, the origin of the antivax claim that black boys are “three times more likely” to develop autism if they get the MMR before 36 months. In addition to the fact that this dishonestly portrays the outermost edge of the CI as the result, it also ignores the fact that a) the CI includes 1, meaning that there’s no statistically significant increase in the OR, and b) black children who got the MMR prior to 18 and 24 months of age had no increase in their odds of developing autism (if I was as dishonest as the antivaxers, I could cherry-pick the lower end of the CIs and claim that black boys who received the MMR before 18 and 24 months were nearly half as likely to develop autism.) If you take the <36 months OR at face value, then the odds of developing autism are only increased for black boys who receive the MMR between the ages of 24 and 36 months, which is clearly absurd. In short, DeStefano et al didn’t hide the apparent association, they ignored it because it was a) not statistically significant, and b) obviously spurious.
Funny, Hooker used the CDC’s methods – and his paper is withdrawn
Not even close – Hooker took the CDCs case-control data and reanalyzed it as if it were a cohort study. Other people with more statistical chops than me have explained in great detail why this is @$$ backwards, as well as enumerating the various other illegitimate statistical stunts Hooker pulled, but I’ll try to explain the big main problem, more to make sure I’ve got it straight myself than anything (so someone who stats-savvy correct me if I’ve got it wrong.) To establish a causal connection between an exposure (in this case, vaccines) and a disease (autism,) obviously the exposure has to precede the disease. In a cohort study, you start with subjects who have or haven’t had an exposure, then look to see if they have the disease. Obviously, you exclude people who had the disease before they got the exposure from the outset. In other words, if you want to do a cohort study, you have to take the temporal relationship (which came first) into account at the data collection step. A case-control study works the other way around – you start with groups that do or don’t have the disease, then look to see if they’ve had the exposure (this seems counter-intuitive, but its useful for when you’re looking at a relatively rare disease and a comparatively more common exposure.) The DeStefano study compared the age of vaccination between autistic and control subjects – in other words, the temporal relationship was built into the studt design, so they didn’t need to take it into account when they collected their data. In fact, the authors specifically discuss how difficult it is to establish the age of onset for autism, and how their study design obviates this problem (you did read the paper, right?) So, to sum up, Hooker took raw data that didn’t take into account the temporal association between the MMR and onset of autism (b/c the case-control study design would have accounted for that), then analyzed it using a study design that didn’t account for the temporal relationship (because that would have been taken into account at the data collection step if the data had originally been intended for a cohort study), resulting in a study that didn’t account for the temporal relationship between the MMR and autism at all. So he’s trying to use a study where an unknown proportion of his subjects got the MMR after developing autism as evidence that the MMR causes autism!
Holy crap – you can always tell when I’m trying to put off working on something else ^^*
the paper was withdrawn over alleged concerns over statistical methods used and a trumped-up conflict of interest in the peer review process, which Hooker has denied
“Alleged concerns”? One might try to argue against the validity of concerns about Hooker’s statistical incompetence, but this is the first time I have heard someone question whether those concerns actually exist. It is a new form of Trutherism.
The journal found the “trumped up” COI to be sufficiently credible that they retracted the paper when it came to their attention. Presumably they are not part of a Conspiracy, or they would never had published the paper to begin with.
Not how FOIA production works.
^^ Not that it matters, since the data didn’t come from an FOIA request at all. Shall we quote Hooker?
“Cohort data were obtained directly as a ‘restricted access data set’ from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via a Data Use Agreement. Data were deidentified by the CDC in accordance with Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prior to receipt by the study authors.”
Minor correction to what I wrote above concerning birth certificates – the age, gender, race, and birth state for the total sample was based on info collected from either the birth certificate or registration form from their school records. As shown in Table 2 and discussed in the paper, however, the race data was missing for a significant fraction of the total sample, which was why they did separate analyses by race for the birth certificate sample (for which they had complete race data) but not the total sample.
1. We cannot use Table 2 of the paper as showing why they needed to remove the individuals, that’s just re-stating the fraud as evidence that the fraud was justified (no new empirical data). In the publication it sounds “right”. The paper appeared after the fraud was committed, and it evidence of, the fraud. Omission of those individuals was not in the original data analysis protocol (source: Thompson). The race data were available from school records, and they did not exclude individuals without valid birth certificates until after they saw the strong association. They reported all of the other negative subgroup analysis, but left out (i.e., omitted) the AA male subgroup. Going off protocol without IRB approval is a no-no. In fact, Thompson said they never even had an external review board; for these studies, they just adjusted their analysis protocols as they went along until the association went away. The internal communications on this are startling unashamed.
2. Re: how FOIAs are conducted, the phone calls started after Thompson provided Hooker with the data, and Thompson called Hooker after hours. He was confessing due to what he called his shame and guilt. When a person says they are guilty of committing scientific fraud in vaccine research, to me, that’s more than a red flag.
3. Re: IOM’s conclusions that “vaccines are safe”. First of all, the statement “vaccines are safe” is a universal claim and does not allow that some people may be hypersensitive to neurotoxins such as ethylmercury (now known to be more, not less toxic than methylmercury – it’s ‘clearance’ is actually longer, preferential deposition in organs, including the brain), and aluminum (a well-known neurotoxin, just ask Pubmed). The IOM’s conclusions vaccines are safe is based in part on fraudulent results (omitted results in DeStefano, and over-analyzed results in Madsen et al.), and other studies in which the data were “analyzed to result”. Remember, Thompson said this practice was routine.
4. Narad, yes, “All of the data” was the outcome of this particular FOIA. Thompson revealed that the task of release all of the data to Hooker fell to him. Have your read Thompson’s confessions and revelations to Hooker?
5. Sarah- Hooker’s p-values showing positive association match nearly perfectly those of the original, unpublished AA male subgroup analysis. The temporal association was uncertain for all of the patients in the study, for all subgroup analyses. They did not know for sure when each child was vaccinated. The differences in the result due to the design are, as a result, trivial. Also, Thompson stated that the CDC vaccine safety research at the time routinely – study after study – went off protocol, over-analyzed the data to get the desired result. The FOIA resulted in an email for the Madsen study stating “It just won’t go away” with the email author pleading with colleagues to accept the results in the name of “objective science”, and expressing concern that he did not want to appear to be anti-vax. Those results, which showed a strong association at first, was then analyzed over and over and the publication delay for four years (!) until they finally figured out if they included numerous multi-collinear variables as ‘control’ variables, they could finally “make it go away”. The variables were gestational age and birthweight (functionally related) and mother’s age and income (also functionally related, to each other). This is what you can get away with when your studies are not subject to a IRB. Instead of concluding the low-birthweight babies of young, low income mother were at risk of autism due to the vaccine schedule, they concluded “no association”. We could have learned something from that study.
Vaccine safety research will never get to the point where we use information from each patient to assess whether a vaccine is safe for that individual if we do no accept that we have been duped. The two Merck whistleblowers are making headway in their case in court. What I am learning in my research on genetics of autism (having read >1,300 studies) is, in part, that neuroprotective pathways can be disrupted by 1,2 or 3 mutations – many different genes, different mutations in different autistics, some inherited and some de novo. There are other pathways to autism that may or may not involve toxins. DeStefano has even admitted (meekly) to Sharyl Attkisson that yes, it is possible that some kids are sensitive to toxins in vaccines and could have developed autism. That is no small deal.
I see a future in which kids are screened and given a genetic exemption to avoid autism. We will never get there if we continue stating, without qualification, that “vaccines do not cause autism”. These kids are likely very susceptible to many other source of environmental toxins, as well. Our protection from infectious diseases is important; if we can screen for risk of adverse events, we can enjoy protection and the knowledge that our protection does not come at the cost of someone else’s mind.
Vaccine Whistleblower, published by Skyhorse, is worth a serious read. It contains all of Thompson’s confessions and revelations to Hooker. See for yourself.
Do I “know” that vaccine causes autism in these kids? No, the only justified position that I can come to is “we do not yet know” – that is, for me, the only rational position given that one of the scientists on these studies came forward and admitted the research was fraudulent. What choice do we have but to take Thompson at face value?
A new round of research on biomarker-informed vaccine safety research is needed, and as long as everyone regurgitates that universal knowledge claims that “there is no link between vaccines and autism” and that “vaccines are safe”
that much-needed research will never become high-priority.
James Lyons-Weiler #50:
Without qualification? Without qualification? In case it skipped your notice, over 5,000 families joined the Omnibus Autism Proceedings before the Vaccine Court. Six cases (Michelle Cedillo, Yates Hazelhurst, Colten Snyder, Colin Dwyer, Jordan King, William Mead) were selected as test cases to go in front of the Special Masters. The first three were ruled on in 2009 and lost with the Special Masters making lengthy reference to the weakness of their cases and the implausibility of their expert witnesses’ testimony. When they appealed, the verdicts were upheld. When Hazelhurst and Cedillo appealed further, the verdicts were still upheld. In 2010, the Special Masters ruled on the other three test cases with the exact same results. After that, a letter was circulated to the members of the Omnibus Autism Proceedings. Any family wishing to push their case would have to present a plausible theory of causation and supporting evidence.
In the five years since that letter, no family has.
In addition, multiple studies have been conducted into if vaccines cause autism. The total number of people in these studies runs into the millions. No correlation has been found.
Your dismissal of this as “without qualification” speaks volumes for your dishonesty and mendacity.
I see a future in which “whistleblowers” are not automatically assumed to be unmotivated by money and personal reasons, and whose claims are not accepted uncritically by people who desperately want to believe them.
I also see a future in which people do not cherry-pick sources like the IOM and CDC for little tidbits they can use to advance their deeply flawed cause, while ignoring the great body of evidence those organizations use to reach completely different conclusions.
Sadly, that future is a long way off, as long as wishful thinking and self-deception are allowed to cloud reasoning.
Really? Only four telephone conversations?
Methinks you haven’t even read the book yourself (not worth a serious read to you?) and are just parroting talking points you’ve come across elsewhere…
…makes one wonder how well you’ve researched the rest of your claims.
I know it’s been mentioned before, but even if we give Hooker the benefit of the doubt, his reanalysis showed no correlation in any other group. It supports that in most cases vaccines didn’t cause autism.
@James Lyons-Weiler, PhD
You really should know better. If you look at enough subgroups you’re bound to find correlation somewhere. It’s the green jelly bean problem. Unless you’re dishonest it should immediately apparent that the relationship is likely spurious.
Idea: someone should do a reanalysis based of day of the week the children were born. I bet there’s a good chance one of them correlates with higher incidence of autism.
Perhaps James would like to provide a single example of such an inherited allele or de novo mutation which conveys greater autism risk modulated by vaccination.
And don’t give me any of that “I’ve read 1300 studies” crap. Many who wrote these papers are friends or colleagues of mine, so please let’s talk specifics.
I’m pretty sure that this is incorrect, but I’m disinclined to go rooting around in the cases at the moment.
^ The last sentence, that is.
Then why did Hooker state otherwise? Where’s the FOIA request? You do know that Hooker has litigated at least one such request before, right?
In any event, that’s still not how FOIA document production works – Thompson isn’t a lawyer.
“The study was approved by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s institutional review board. Because the activity was considered public health surveillance, parental consent was not required. Instead, permission to access records was obtained from each data source.”
Which ones would those be?
This is a non sequitur. For that matter, rehashing all of this as reworked into your own special variety of word salad is a complete waste of time.
65% if you compare each day to every other day in single tests.
Looks like CBS 46 realized that their investigative news team needed some help: http://www.newscaststudio.com/2015/11/10/atlanta-cbs-revamps-investigative-team/
In response to: “Scientists who are very pro-vaccine question the schedule and argue about which vaccines should be on it and when every year as the schedule is reevaluated.”
In contrast, many of the vaccines on the USA schedule are not included on the vaccine schedules for other developed countries. A 2009 Special Report “Autism and Vaccines Around the World: Vaccine Schedules, Autism Rates, and Under 5 Mortality” demonstrates that most developed countries do not include the varicella (chicken pox), rotavirus, pneumococcal, influenza, or hepatitis A vaccines on their schedules. A slight majority of countries administer the hepatitis B vaccine to infants, but many of those countries (such as the UK, Denmark, Netherlands, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Ireland, Iceland, and Japan  ) and several Canadian provinces routinely screen pregnant women for hepatitis B and only administer the hepatitis B vaccine to the infant if the mother tests positive for hepatitis B. The report points out that the USA has a higher vaccination rate and a higher mortality rate for children under the age of 5, and raises this important question:
The United States has the highest number of mandated vaccines for children under 5 in the world (36, double the Western world average of 18), the highest autism rate in the world (1 in 150 children, 10 times or more the rate of some other Western countries), but only places 34th in the world for its children under 5 mortality rate. What’s going on?
 WHO (2009). Progress towards global immunization goals. Geneva: WHO.
 Centre for Disease Control and Prevention. Global progress toward universal childhood hepatitis B vaccination, 2003. MMWR 2003;52:868-70.
Ben Swann is only one of a very few real journalists left. The rest must tow the ad company line and avoid covering subjects like Big Pharma’s corruption. You need only watch tv to see they “own” the networks by the number of pharma ads.?
“The first two are often written by or associated with a guy named David Gorski, MD, who also goes by the alias “Orac.” Gorski is a surgical oncologist and an assistant professor of surgery at Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, MI.” and “The man’s [Dr. David Gorski] defensiveness may have something to do with his research on a Sanofi-Aventis drug called Riluzole (Rilutek®),9 which may well eventually be used to treat autism. Riluzole has been approved for clinical trials (for autism) by the FDA, and one can imagine the money that might be at stake if the drug makes it to market.” Internet Trolls Attack Anyone Resisting Vaccine Party Line by Marco Cáceres Published November 10, 2015
“5,000 years of vaccine free human history with a population increase of 6 Billion people proves that vaccines are designed to stifle the evolutionary process, not protect people.” ~ Tim Singleton
Really Darla? Well, it’s very interesting that Brian Deer was able to report on the Vioxx Scandal.
Different countries face different diseases. BCG is on the schedule in South Africa. That’s because TB is a real threat here.
The U.S. has a much broader definition of live birth than any other country. That’s one reason the mortality rate is so much higher. If one country counts a preemie that later dies as a live birth when another country would not, then the first country will de facto have a higher infant mortality.
Smart Vax, a known antivaccine site, is not regarded as a valid source.
@65 I don’t know who Tim Singleton is, but is he suggesting that previous to the last 5,000 years, humans used vaccines? Civilization has been around for about 6,000 years and the modern form of humans a heck of a lot longer than that.
At any rate, because I try not to use foul language on blogs, and because I really have nothing against the horse he rode in on, I’ll just say that I’m happy to have survived the VPDs I had (before vaccines other than Smallpox were available), My children were fully vaccinated (with everything available at the time) and I’m tired of nonsense, although I imagine it will continue as long as there are people willing to listen to it.
For the life of me, I can’t figure out how.
He’s leaving out a few data points. People don’t have to have seven or eight children in order for two of them to survive to adulthood nowadays. For instance.
How does Singleton feel about contraceptives, one wonders.
I don’t know who Tim Singleton is, but is he suggesting that previous to the last 5,000 years, humans used vaccines? Civilization has been around for about 6,000 years and the modern form of humans a heck of a lot longer than that.
Singleton’s argument, I think, is that the human population had increased to six billion before the advent of vaccines, then it stopped growing.
So essentially anyone that goes against the grain of the pharmaceutical science gods is a quack. That fact alone is cause for scrutiny. Regardless of whatever benefit from vaccinating you might declare, all people require the the right to refuse any substance that is pushed upon them. I submit my Nuremberg code right
In response to: “Scientists who are very pro-vaccine question the schedule and argue about which vaccines should be on it and when every year as the schedule is reevaluated.”
I am not convinced of the utility of arguing with someone who is simply copy-pasting a paragraph of bafflegab from SaneVax, and shows no evidence of understanding its claims.
No, jason — anyone who decides they know better than two and a have decades of research is a quack.
(You also might want to check that Nuremberg analogy).
“half.” Curse you, auto-correct.
I submit my Nuremberg code right
I cannot help wondering what Jason believes his “Nuremberg code right” consists of. And whether he has actually read the 10 points comprising the Nuremberg Code, because none of them look particularly relevant here.
How’s life in Sterile Oracland™? What’s the mechanism behind increased risk of autism by MMR in Black boys?
CDC vaccine protocol doesn’t factor fetal gut microbiota, colonization in the womb. Microbiota regulate immune response to vaccination. Some children are born imbalanced from imbalanced mothers while others have a flora balance based on ancestral diet. Yet the vaccine program is one-size-fits-all leading to severe adverse reactions.
How is the fetal gut colonized? Please see my new article here describing one mechanism where maternal chylomicrons reach the placenta:
Here’s a question Keith – if American American boys are at a greater risk, why aren’t there more African American boys with autism?
There are, Lawrence, according to this 2014 Pediatrics paper:
Here’s an article about the paper in WSJ:
Well, Duh!!!!1!1!! Dead babies are the rich grist in the ever-grinding mill of the True Antivaxxer. Lots and lots of dead babies, all killed by perfectly healthy 100% natural diseases. Except that’s all been destroyed now, thanks to anti-evolutionary medical science.
Vaccines ruin evolution by not allowing natural selection to make lots of dead babies out of lots of live babies, thus allowing them all the weaker babies to grow to adulthood and breed even more weak babies who should also have been killed by now-eliminated diseases but aren’t, and so on.
This causes the entire world population to degenerate rapidly into an enormous disgusting pool of filthy weakling untermench that’s in dire need of a massive scrub – and is going to get it too, just as soon as Dear Leader’s dedicated and unswerving army of faithful disease spreaders can raise up a really good plague to cull all the weakings again.
And then we’ll see who’s laughing and dancing atop whose grave, oh yes!
Which is all a bit ironic really, because apparently it’s us who are the ones that are just like Hitler.
Oh, I see…I had no idea the human population of the planet had stopped growing. That must be the reason for the drive to outlaw contraception; so we don’t run out of people. Still don’t know who he is.
The interesting thing is that the increased risk in African American boys only exists if you do not control for confounding variables. That, coupled with the fact that it is only boys and only one racial subgroup, suggests that it is one of those confounding variables that is actually responsible for the observation, rather than the vaccine. Yes, there are diseases/conditions that preferentially affect certain genders or certain ethnic groups, but not both.
For those interested in reading a little more (though I’m guessing most of the regulars are quite familiar with it), I wrote up a sort of FAQ about the whole CDC whistleblower thing back when it first cropped up, with a few recent additions.
Which, in the US, they have. Of course, the people in question are very young children who have no say in the matter, and the refusers are parents putting them at risk fr VPDs, but never mind. You can homeschool your kids if you don’t want them vaxed. If the option to ‘refuse any substance’ is among the ‘natural rights’ of individuals, accepting certain limits to that option is among the cost of entering ‘the social contract’. There’s no free lunch, and if you’re going to benefit from engaging in society, you have to play by the rules.
Troll grade: F
Swann doesn’t work for a network, but he has to toe [ftfy] the company line as much as the next TV journalist. He doesn’t call his own shots: what TV stations do and don’t cover is decided by news directors — who do have to please management, which does have to please major advertisers. The fact a CBS affiliate is willing to run a ‘CDC whistleblower’ piece testifies to the fact the pharmas aren’t worried about it. Which makes perfect sense since, a) it’s BS, not anything hinky they’ve actually done, b) MMR profits are far too tiny (on their scale of $$) to be worth any unusual, costly, and reputation-damaging-if-revealed protection.
Troll grade: D
I have no interest in engaging with our resident veteran of the recycling industry, but would merely like to point out that while there is preliminary evidence that microbiome may have a role in modulating vaccine effectiveness, there is not a whit of evidence that microbiome variation can cause ‘”severe adverse reactions,” even though Mr. Bell continues to claim this is a well-known fact.
Are you a research subject?
If not, and you wish to submit some such right in the context of medical treatment, I suggest the right of an adult of sound mind to determine what is done with his/her own body, which dates back to the early 1900s.
But there’s also the right of informed consent, which (as such) has been around since the 1950s. (Or, as the case may be, informed refusal.)
Michelle @62: A big part of why the US has a higher infant mortality rate (and why the Hep B at birth is routine) is because we all too often have piss-poor prenatal care.
Poor pre-natal care leads to poor outcomes. Mothers aren’t being screened for HepB, so babies need to be vaccinated. And just so you know, if a person is infected with HepB as an infant they are much more likely to develop the chronic form that leads to liver cancer.
And to whomever complained about meningitis vaccinations: meningitis might be rare, but it kills incredibly quickly, even with the very best care the modern American medical system can provide. And even when it doesn’t kill, it can lead to multiple amputations. Why would you wish that on anyone?
“The United States” doesn’t have any mandated vaccines for children under 5.
Now it’s time to play test your counting skills.
Then simply screen every mother for Hep B and ONLY administer HepB vax to the child that needs it. That is how it used to be in USA until 1986. But after the immunity to Vaccine manufacturers, kids nowadays are getting 69 shots!!! It used to be only 13!!!!
Firstly, citation DEFINITELY needed for 69 shots. Secondly, Vaccine Manufacturers can still be sued for defects in the manufacturing process. The “immunity” is a distortion of the facts.
Yes, there was a time when we only recommended HepB to mothers who screened positive for HepB. And you know what happened? Not much change in HepB incidence. Then we started recommending HepB for all newborns. You know what happened then? Incidence went down!
Oh, and screening the mothers misses some other potential vectors of the disease: fathers, siblings, extended relatives, daycare playmates, etc. I suppose we could screen all of those people. Are you willing to help foot the bill for that?
Another example of the real, tangible benefits of the HepB vaccine at birth:
Oh, and screening the mothers misses some other potential vectors of the disease: fathers, siblings, extended relatives, daycare playmates, etc. I suppose we could screen all of those people. Are you willing to help foot the bill for that?
Not to mention one of the biggest vectors of undiagnosed HBV…healthcare workers. You know, the people staffing the hospitals where most babies are born
#84, Adam, thanks for following the issue. Let’s be patient as evidence accumulates about how microbiota regulate immune response (including adverse reactions/hyperimmunity/autoimmunity) as well as response to vaccination. Here’s some of the latest:
“Response on Pneumococcal Vaccine in Preterm Infants After Neutral and Acidic Oligosaccharides Supplementation”
“Effects of a Formula Containing Two Types of Prebiotics, Bifidogenic Growth Stimulator and Galacto-oligosaccharide, and Fermented Milk Products on Intestinal Microbiota and Antibody Response to Influenza Vaccine in Elderly Patients: A Randomized Controlled Trial”
And let’s please not discourage research as this appears to be a huge window of opportunity to improve vaccine safety, something all parties can agree is desperately needed. What is not called for is vaccine injury denialism.
Gee Keith, I don’t see anything in those two papers about enhancing vaccine safety. Instead there are preliminary findings suggesting certain oral supplements may improve antibody response to vaccination (though the latter study found improved response to only one of three influenza serotypes; titers were actually decreased for one serotype following manipulation of intestinal microbiota).
If one’s “desperate need” to impugn immunization involves mischaracterization of research, it’s time to reexamine one’s motivations and critical thinking skills.
I would like to point out that Keith made no substantive rebuttals to my points in #84, instead choosing to repeat his usual pattern. If he really wanted to convince anyone, rather than just feel smart about himself, he might start by defining in his own words the difference between vaccine effectiveness and vaccine injury.
By the way Keith, did you know vaccine research is actually my job? I’m currently writing up a grant for this RFA: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/rfa-files/RFA-AI-15-033.html
Folks like you are doing far more to discourage research. Why would anyone want to do vaccine research when they’ll be pilloried by the AoA folks and their results ignored anyways?
In related news, Teresa Conrick’s latest AoA entry appears to be an effort to stretch Not Even Wrong to its breaking point (link added):*
No, really. As of this writing, the lone commenter wants to know whether there are any mail-order labs available.
* The LITFL link is broken; it should point to here.
^ That is, “here.”
[email protected]: I would be incredibly suspicious of any medical researcher who permits the gibbering shitmonkeys of AoA to influence their professional work in any way, shape, or form. That’d be like the CERN folks shutting down and giving up just because Steorn’s announced their fantastic new free energy machine is now ready [for public investment].
We’ve already seen the type of “researchers” that enjoy the stamp of AoA approval, and their only successful work is in is how to extract ever more adulation and/or cash out of the fools. I can’t see you lending an me of credibility to them, so why would you care any more what their hooting sycophants think?
(That’s m subscript-e, btw. As in 9.1E-31kg. Stupid bag-of-shite SB comment form spoils all the best jokes.)
I meant this more from the perspective of future immunology students vs. current working researchers…it may be entirely unfounded, but based on some anecdotal incidents I’m really concerned that in a decade or two we won’t have nearly as many immunologists.
This is what I need to be doing; the set-up costs would be minimal and done in my basement.
Adam, great to learn you’re a researcher. Can you recommend a qualified lab willing to research microbial predisposition associated with adverse vaccine reaction?
Look them up yourself Keith. Jeepers you’re lazy.
has,#100: you mean U+2091, ₑ as in mₑ? See wikipedia, for instance.
Sure! Just tell me which specific vaccine, and what specific adverse reaction you’d like to study first. NIH tends to require, you know, actual details in grants.
Excellent, Adam, let’s try to identify a qualified, willing lab to research how MMR vaccine interacts with a microbiome high in Proteobacteria and Clostridia, but with reduced or absent protective microbes such as Bifidobacteria. We’ll also need a brain neurologist on the team to examine how immune response in the gut affects the brain (there are several potential biomarkers).
Interestingly, there are no studies yet about how measles interacts with bacteria as they’re are with polio and HIV. With polio, for example, exposure to certain bacteria dramatically increase infectivity, even 500x.
I’ve been in contact with several labs, but they’re not interested in such a vaccine safety project yet, more about improving response and developing new vaccines.
Looking forward to your suggestions, Adam.
What specific adverse vaccine reaction is caused by MMR exposure in individuals with a “microbiome high in Proteobacteria and Clostridia, but with reduced or absent protective microbes such as Bifidobacteria”?
Adam, let’s limit the research to seizures since it’s already established MMR increases risk of seizures. Then in subsequent research we’ll look at autism and SIDS.
Looking forward to your lab suggestions.
Keith, MMR vaccination in children is associated with 25 to 34 excess seizures (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC320893/)
Can you calculate the number of subjects you’ll need to enroll in your proposed study to have sufficient power to determine if these excess seizures are statistically more likely to occur in individuals with “microbiomes high in Proteobacteria and Clostridia, but with reduced or absent protective microbes such as Bifidobacteria” than in those whose biomes were not?
That’s 25 to 34 excess seizures per every 100,000 children vaccinated.
Oh, and estimate of the cost of characterizing the microbiomes of the necessary number of subjects would be useful as well.
JGC, how about using gnotobiotic pigs and mice?
Interesting to consider increased risk of seizure caused by MMR based on age since gut microbiota assembly is based on gestational and postnatal age:
based on some anecdotal incidents I’m really concerned that in a decade or two we won’t have nearly as many immunologists
Anecdata, of course, but in my entering class of around 30 or so biomedical PhD students, I’m the only one who’s primary focus is immunology. The general impression I’ve gotten from my classmates (and some professors) is that the sheer complexity of the subject scares people off. And, of course, it takes longer to publish papers, which is a definite downside in today’s “publish-or-perish” research climate, especially for a graduate student who needs x number of first-author publications in order to graduate.
Ben Swan’s latest Reality Check is a slam against CNN and Politico’s claims that Ben Carson is just making stuff up about his violent past and his scholarship offer from West Point, respectively. Re: the CNN story, he makes a potentially valid argument that the reporters concluded Carson was BSing because no one in the small sample of classmates they could find recalled these incidents. Just because 7 people didn’t know about them, says Swann, that doesn’t prove they didn’t happen. Fair enough. Regarding West Point, Swann just points to Carson’s ‘clarification’ which amounts to ‘people told me I could get into West Point if I wanted to, but I didn’t.’ Lame. Swann frames all this as a call for higher standards in reporting, not a defense of Carson. Yeah, right…
Meanwhile, the biggest story coming out of Atlanta is an expose by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution of police and prosecutors who covered up a police shooting of a white 35 year old mother-of-two who had led officers on a slow-speed chase after driving away from a cop seeking to question her in response to a phone tip about a ‘suspicious person’. Initially, the junior prosecutors assigned to the case believed the officers who killed Caroline Small had commited a crime, and wanted to go to a grand jury with criminal charges. The state police investigator called it the worst case of police misconduct he’d ever seen. But their bosses rigged the case for the cops, who got off scot free and are still on patrol.
Neither intrepid investigative reporter Ben Swann nor anyone else at WGCL-TV appears to have uttered one word about this story…
Sarah @114: I work in immunology (although I don’t have a degree in it) and I have to agree that the complexity is a real turn off for students. If immunologists could just codify and settle on one set of nomenclature, it would be a big help.
There’s nothing like having some experienced researcher tell you that you should read up on X, spend all day on PubMed without finding anything recent only to have someone else say “Oh, X? We call that Tau978b now.”
That said, immunology and immunotherapy for cancer is a hot topic of research (and grants) right now, so I’m not too worried about AoA.
There’s nothing like having some experienced researcher tell you that you should read up on X, spend all day on PubMed without finding anything recent only to have someone else say “Oh, X? We call that Tau978b now.”
That’s why you look it up on Wikipedia first 😉
For those of you relatively new to the story, the #CDCwhistleblower manufactroversy is that African American boys are more likely to have autism if exposed to the MMR vaccine after 24 months but before 36 months.
Members of the Hating Autism and Believing that Vaccines Cause All Manner of Ills Society jumped on this, to the point of an alliance forming between Robert F. Kennedy jr and the Nation of Islam.
Had they engaged in any way whatsoever with autism in non-Caucasian populations? Why no. Do they engage in any substantive way even now (15 months after the “exposé”)? Why no.
Matt Carey of LeftBrain/RightBrain is in fine form today: So, you supposed champions of autistic minorities, why aren’t you commenting on the new autism prevalence report?.
Carey startes with the largest and oldest. It doesn’t improve.
I just learnt of this today, and didn’t know where to put it.
Go to Google (either “Main” or “Images”) and put in “logical fallacy referee”.
@ Julian Frost
I like it.
Being a referee is a tough job. Poor guy must be overworked, these days…
JGC, thanks, though there’s still much to be learned using gnotobiotic pigs and mice re: adverse reaction to MMR:
Also, consider the rubella component where Africans respond with twice the antibodies:
Perhaps researching preterm infant response to MMR associated with gut flora assembly based on gestational age would be a good avenue to illustrate microbial regulation of immune response to MMR.
Thanks in advance to Adam for his efforts to engage a suitable lab.
Keith: you would have to get the idea past an IRB – very difficult on its own, and even more difficult when children are involved, much less premies. And, there has to be a plausible hypothesis that you are testing. Outside of your own personal bee-in-the-bonnet, I haven’t read or heard of anyone else who believes in this gut theory.
You do realize infants don’t get the MMR – it’s administered to 12 – 15 mo olds.
Dawn, if there were no biological plausibility, I wouldn’t have been able to publish on this site with a very active publishing team including scientists:
There’s plenty of interest, including Adam’s . . . if there were no plausibility, would he have offered to identify an appropriate lab? You can bet NIH will be interested in funding this new and exciting prospect:
Chemmomo, good call, though MMR has still been a concern with preterm infants. Perhaps the underlying mechanism is immature gut flora based on gestational age.
But I agree, other vaccines such as HepB would be better choices in studying microbial predisposition and adverse vaccine reaction in preterm infants.
And why has it been a concern, if it isn’t given for 12 to 15 months?
Of course it’s biologically plausible, or I wouldn’t be able to argue it was on the internet? That’s really your argument?
“You can bet NIH will be interested in funding this new and exciting prospect:”
Let us know when you’ve completed and submitted your grant proposal, keith.
I also admire his ability to cite himself…..
Keith, I got around to reading the D’Angio et al cite you linked to, and I can’t for the life of me understand what claim you believe it supports. You bring it up in the context of MMR being a concern for preterm infants, but the study indicates that concern to be ill-founded *(it concludes “Preterm children mounted antibody responses that were similar to those of term children after measles-mumps-rubella and varicella vaccines at 15 months of age.”)
I should also note the study offers no support for the hypothesis that immature gut flora impacts MMR response in preterm infants.
JGC, you’re behaving as if vaccine efficacy is not strongly linked with gut health. There’s plenty of evidence.
Is it really such a stretch for you to consider gut health associated with adverse vaccine reaction?
Keith: once you’ve submitted your NIH grant and gotten it all approved, then I’ll think you might actually have a point.
As for the wonderful website, I’d prefer to have evidence in PubMed referenced journals of high impact.
Oh goodie. A VOA link, too. Sure, gut microbiota could affect an ORAL vaccine. But, in case you haven’t noticed, the MMR, Hep B, and others are given subcutaneously. So, how can gut microbiota affect those types of vaccines?
As for the high jump to adverse vaccine reaction based on microbiota…REALLY? The article had NOTHING to say about adverse reactions. Only decreased effectiveness.
I’m not ‘behaving’ as if vaccine efficiency isn’t strongly linked–you haven’t provided sufficient evidence that this is the case. Your previous cite (D’Angio et al) after all argues against such a link, finding that preterm children and term children mounted antibody responses after measles-mumps-rubella and varicella vaccines at 15 months of age.
And this cite also doesn’t argue strongly in favor of such a link between gut microbiota and MMR vaccine efficiency (did you miss the part where they found that TLR5 deficiency was found to have no impact on the efficiency of live-attenuated vaccines such as MMR?)
The impression I’m forming is that you’re typing keywords like “vaccination gut microbiota efficacy’ into PubMed and then copying cites without bothering to read and understand them in the blind hope they might somehow appear to support your claim. Maybe read them first next time?
Dawn, you may want to do some research. Gut health related to vaccine response is not limited to oral vaccines because 70% of the body’s immune system is located in the gut.
The VOA article is about this study regarding the flu shot:
This paper also includes parenteral vaccine response:
There are no papers yet about microbiota as cause of adverse reaction. That’s why we’re talking about it.
Yet another article related to oral vaccines…….
There are no papers about microbiota as a cause of gaining superpowers either–could we talk about that instead? It sounds like it would be much more fun–and just as meaningful. .
“There are no papers about microbiota as a cause of gaining superpowers either–could we talk about that instead? It sounds like it would be much more fun–and just as meaningful. .”
Now that’s the voice of a true scientist. Asinine behavior.
You’re just now noticing that?
There may be an arcane reason WHY there are no papers about ” microbiota as a cause of adverse reactions”.
Actually, there may be an obvious reason.
70% of the body’s immune system is located in the gut? Now WHY wasn’t I taught that in my anatomy and physiology classes? Geez, I guess all those white blood cells, lymph nodes and other things are worthless, then.
Actually Keith, it is. scientists don’t waste their time or government funding pursuing wild goose chases suggested by random folks who figured out how to keyword search pubmed.
What is your specific evidence that suggests that seizure risk after MMR modulated by microbiome composition. If you don’t have any, than I don’t see any reason why looking into the microbiome as a covariate is any more logical than, say, looking into organic food consumption. Note that now you’ve jumped to taking about HepB for some reason.
It is staggering that you can’t see what everyone else does: you have convinced yourself that vaccines cause autism and SIDS, and no amount of data will convince you otherwise.
After #106, Adam is now balking on the project, not at all surprising. HepB was raised in relation to preterm infants where adverse vaccine reaction may be caused by immature flora balance based on gestational age study. There’s tons of evidence suggesting seizure post-vaccination is associated with flora imbalance.
Denice #141, please elaborate. The obvious reason is that microbiome research is still fairly new while vaccine scientists have little incentive to research safety. But there are plenty of studies about protective bacteria amid challenges such as rotavirus. And plenty of evidence vaccine response is regulated by microbiota, more than enough to warrant research about microbiota mechanism behind adverse vaccine reaction.
Note the missing part?
Please do feel free to provide any of this evidence at any point.
“There’s tons of evidence suggesting seizure post-vaccination is associated with flora imbalance.”
Sure, sure. So where is the evidence that the MMR causes more seizures than the background level? Seizures do occur for many other reasons, so you have to acknowledge those reasons.
My son had seizures two weeks after his MMR vaccine, but he was also suffering from another disease (for which a vaccine was introduced about ten years later). So am I supposed to blame the MMR vaccine, or the disease he was actively suffering from when he had the seizure?
By the way I can post studies too:
Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2006 Sep;25(9):768-73.
Encephalopathy after whole-cell pertussis or measles vaccination: lack of evidence for a causal association in a retrospective case-control study.
Vaccine. 2012 Jan 5;30(2):247-53.
Lack of association between childhood immunizations and encephalitis in California, 1998-2008.
@ Keith Bell:
People who are specialists in immunology and vaccines apparently do not imagine your area of interest to be either a feasible or a fruitful avenue for research. If they did, there would already be research – doctoral candidates and researchers always need to find fertile areas to investigate.
Do you think that they aren’t able to imagine possible questions which would involve realistic mechanisms of action?
Someone who is already deep into the subject matter would have been there by now: it is highly doubtful that Teresa Conrick could discover anything new under the sun ( or in the microbiome).
People searching for research questions in their area of expertise make use of the proverbial fine tooth comb.
He has nothing left but begging for attention and page views. After lo these many years, KB still refuses to accept the notion that he’s just plain not anything special.
I’m still chuckling at Keith’s latest theory that bacteria, and the viruses they harbor, hitchhike a ride to the placenta inside chylomicrons. I think yet again he misunderstood the paper he cited that said that an apolipoprotein in chylomicrons antagonizes S. Aureus; perhaps he thinks “antagonizes” means “carries”. Since the very largest chylomicron is 1,200 nanometers in diameter, while most bacteria are at least 1,000 nm in diameter, with the very smallest (mycoplasma) 300 nm in diameter, and given the structure of chylomicrons, I struggle to see how a bacterium could fit inside one, or how it would get in there even if it did.
Kreb, thanks so much, that’s the most feedback I’ve received about this theory and very astute, except what I’m visualizing are bacteria binding to the outside of chylomicrons to lipopolysaccharide-binding proteins (LPB), not entering chylomicrons. LPB also binds LTA from gram-positive organisms such as Staph.
Denice, thanks for the feedback. However, I’ve spoken with both vaccine scientists and microbiome scientists who have never considered microbiota regulation of immune response to vaccination leading to adverse reactions. This is new territory for them. Believe me. It’s taken a year on this blog to get even just a few people to understand the concept.
Keith, surely you must have seen this?
Well knock me down with a feather: Mr Swann speaks fluent Idiot in foreign affairs as well as medicine:
Nice post, Adam. Troubling is “ASD children exhibited a higher prevalence of constipation compared to NT siblings” since this indicates reduced serotonin and possibly tryptophan leading to brain serotonin deficiency dysregulating the glutamatergic system as cause of seizure. Here’s a new article:
Well now that Ben Swann has obtained the CDC Whistleblower documents we’ll see what all you people who’ve trashed the truth will have to say. Can’t wait!! Once parents see those documents the jig is up!!
Joe, do you also believe in the Tooth Fairy and Easter Bunny?
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